Canon DSLR Cameras Forum
Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
by Ezra Phelps on Dec 19, 2016 at 2:28:09 am

I have a Canon Rebel T3i that I bought over two years ago. It has been a good little camera, but as I have learned more about it over the years I have discovered things I don't like about it. This includes the fact that it doesn't autofocus during video. I have gotten some pretty cool portrait and landscape shots on it, I usually use the older (Pre-June 2015) Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. I am ready to step up my photography in many facets, but am conflicted about whether to just invest in a more expensive lens or a new body. I essentially see many portrait style photos that have a much more professional look to them than mine have been yielding (better color composition, more shallow depth of field, etc.) How much powerful could my T3i be with a pricier lens? Or, what would the benefits about updating to a better body (maybe along the lines of a Canon 70D) be? Just looking for some ideas about the pros and cons of each. Thanks.

Re: Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
by Al Bergstein on Dec 19, 2016 at 4:34:26 pm

If you are a relative beginner, the best investment you can give yourself is training. While you *can* learn without oversight, it is a shortcut. The fact that you see portrait styles that are better than yours, and you probably would like to be able to emulate them when the right shot is in front of you, means to me that more effort in learning the camera is needed.

I've been in a few excellent workshops that I've never regretted. There are wonderful short workshops given by experts all over the globe, and some do online as well. Taking these and working through exercises to master your equipment will lead to better work in general. By going you will also meet other students that might help you move your career along.

Since I don't know what you want to shoot, I can't answer your question about whether you should buy a camera body or a lens. The answer may be "neither."

Filmmaking is first and foremost in my mind about ideas. Stories. Mastering your technique means you can bring your story to life better. So go surf the net to find workshops, like Chase Jarvis and his work, but not limited to him, that can help you master your gear. You can always rent gear if you need it. You can't rent expertise.

Best of luck. Look forward to seeing you on Vimeo!


Re: Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
by Ezra Phelps on Dec 20, 2016 at 12:53:01 am

Thanks so much for the insight. It's much appreciated, man.

Re: Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
by Lars Elling Lunde on Jan 20, 2017 at 11:50:01 pm

Al's advise is right on the money: understand your craft.

Also, PLEASE do not learn to rely on auto-focus for your video work. Train your eye / hand and get used to the focal qualities of the glass you DO own. If nothing else, get an eye-loupe for your monitor to scrutinize the focus of your image and understand the depth of field effects. When you can get used to working in low f-stops and still holding focus, you are entering the league of giants.

Rock ON with your bad self!

Best Regards,
Lars Elling Lunde
Lundegaard Imageforge
(845) 915-4048 -

Re: Should I invest in a new camera body or new lens?
by Craig Alan on Feb 5, 2017 at 6:52:14 pm

If you get EF lenses and stay with Canon (or any cam that uses EF lenses) in the future it makes huge difference. If you are shooting indoors then invest in studio lights and separate your subject from your b.g.

Copy a portrait you like and post it in the lighting forum and ask them how to get that look. Or experiment until you start getting there. Have a quick way to monitor your shot after taking it. Have the photo app and interconnect on your computer and look at the results while shooting. If on location then use a laptop.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.